Saturday, 23 January 2010

Girls who go hunting

I experienced a random connection between a fantastic editorial meeting and a close brush with scientology. True story. To find out how this occurred, keep reading, but before I link A to Z, here’s the important bit. I am the new Precious arts critic, ripe and plucked through the interview process for their arts critic programme, whoop whoop! I applied with two days left till the closing date, knew they would be inundated with applicants and the sky swirled a sinister grey on interview day, the signs didn’t bode well I thought. I was wrong, my point being, go for opportunities even if your brain is muddied with reservations or insecurities, that judgement is not for you to make, let others do that.
The interview was held at a swanky location in central London. I burst through silver lift doors damp with rain and a sweaty sheen. I was greeted by two attractive, efficient, perky blonde receptionists that looked as though they functioned on Duracell batteries. The space itself was an upscale, sprawling living room, only with no televisions and lots of important looking people; classy, communal sharing, complete with sleek, colourful patterned chairs and sleek, colourful patterned professionals. The interview panel made up of three wise women sat perched with open, curious expressions. And instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh they bore savvy questions, quips and warm peels of laughter. It was daunting! I can’t remember the last time I faced a panel of three people firing questions at me! I was nervous and did that annoying thing I do of not editing my thoughts when I get swept over with emotion, but it seemed to go down well as they were laughing with me and not at me. They asked me what I expected to gain from the programme, gave me example scenarios to resolve and probed about my future development plans. They also asked lots of things I didn’t prepare for (holy guacamole! The ones I did prime myself for didn’t get asked, typical of fate to tickle her funny bone at the expense of humans!). I did a lot of thinking on my feet but answered honestly and was myself. I have to say it was one of my favourite interviews ever, and I normally hate interviews. They were lovely, welcoming and open to ideas and more importantly, really interested in me and how I’d make the most of the programme. I told them my aim is to see interesting and innovative work in theatre particularly and other mediums too. So it went well, but I wasn’t presumptuous. Sometimes, you think an interview goes well and before you can yell please give me a break, a window of opportunity; you receive a cold rejection letter ending with “best of luck in your endeavours!” Two weeks whizzed by before I got the good news.
My second meeting was just with the wonderful Foluke Akinlose, founder of Precious. This time round we fleshed out my plans in more detail, and touched on the structure of the programme. We also plotted world domination, bounced editorial ideas and sowed the seeds for an exciting event. I got a guided tour of the location, maze like, winding to reveal clean, practical meeting rooms and stylish spaces. By the end Foluke had already introduced me to a good pr contact and I left the meeting feeling inspired and excited. Outside it was still raining and I had just crossed over the road, heading towards the tube station when a lady appeared to sprout out from the ground in front of me. Can I just have two minutes of your time she said? My mistake was making eye contact; then they’ve got you. Plus it’s tough working out in the cold. Before I knew it I was sucked into a carpeted vacuum below street level. Head bent over a personality test at a wooden desk in a room with framed photos of L Ron Hubard Books. L Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology. Damn. Suffice to say things got interesting and slightly creepy. I was told the weaknesses of my personality and how dianetics would help me overcome them (all bull of course) but the guy who attended to me was a charming, pretty doe eyed creature and really very good. An hour later I emerged back on the street starving, clutching a free dvd that would find a bin good company sooner rather than later. And to see people slanting their bodies, not just away from the rain but other external factors that could snare them at the slip of an unguarded moment.
The illustration above is by talented actress and artist Jasika Nicole. For more of Jasika's exquisite work visit Catch her in Fringe on Sky 1.


  1. That Jasika Nicole is talented. I like her work.

  2. She's great, a renaissance woman.


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